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I already have contingency plans and action shopping lists prepared) in advance. This will save time when we have 24 hour or shorter warning before the Shit Hit the Fan, I have been operating under the assumption that we are running out of time so I have largely finished all preps that require shipping or ordering online. When you have 24 hours left, you are restricted to local resources. Do your shopping first before you do other preperatory steps because it does not take a lot of people with the same idea to strip stores bare of the essentials - especially for items that are not heavily stocked. I have twenty items on my list:
My first step would be to assess the threat scenario as different ones require somewhat different preps. Nuclear weapons / fallout, civil unrest, and pandemics are special cases with additional steps.
My second step is to review my current inventory and update my shopping lists as needed. I do this roughly once per month. By having a list, you save time when shopping and you can prioritize based on the amount of resources. When you do this, assess your personal needs and prepping gaps - you may need to reorder your shopping priorities.
Check your current account balances. Under a SHTF scenario, you can assume no access to these for either a short-term period (e.g. a Hurricane Katrina event if you live in Biloxi and bank with a local bank or a "bank holiday") or a permanent loss of access (economic collapse; nuclear war). Even if you are able to obtain access later, you cannot guarantee that the funds will have the same value - especially after a bank holiday.
Stop at your bank and take the maximum amount of cash you can from your accounts. There are both daily limits per account and limits in terms of how much cash most bank branches have on hand at the bank. It does not take very many customers asking for several thousand dollars or more each to empty the bank of cash.
Food is your #1 priority. I would start with Costco and grocery store runs. Even with a good food storage program, you alway burn through your supplies. Spend your money on foods that do not need refrigeration. You might want to stock extra coffee, alcohol, and canning supplies as trade goods that you also use. In addition, you should think about buying foods to can and dehydrate - you can do these later in the day or in the next several days. If you have a nuclear scenario where you need to shelter in place in your fallout shelter, buy extra food that does not need to be prepared along with paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels so you don't need to use stored water to clean dishes. Get several containers of regular bleech (without any scents) - even if you have bleech stored, it looses its decontamination properties in as little as three months.
Your next stop should be your local gun store or the gun section of Wal-Mart or your local sporting goods store. Get more ammunition. Also, get any other gun or camping supplies you identified as a gap. If you do not have a gun, this is your last chance to get one.
If you do not have an emergency shortwave radio, get one. Likewise, if you do not have FMRS/GMRS / MURS walkie-talkie radios, get some.
Stock up on more batteries while at Costco or Wal-Mart.
Stop at the gas station and fill every car up with fuel. Also, get some 5 gallon gas cans and fill them up.
Get additional propane tanks and fill them.
Buy containers to store water. Your priorities are a) 5 gallon water tanks (Wal-Mart usually stock several but they will be gone fast), b) large trash bags (use as liners for trash cans and bath tubs and then fill and cable tie them), and c) kiddie plastic swiming pools with covers. When you get home after all of your shopping, fill all of these with water. In a nuclear scenario, these are extra shielding for you and should be inside. Otherwise, the plastic swimming pool can be outside.
Upgrade your medical supplies as needed. If there is a threat of a pandemic, be sure to get N95 masks, and lots of garlic, sambucol (elderberry extract), grape fruit seed extract, oregano oil (or Oregonal brand of oregano oil), olive leaf extract, and other natural medicines. You probably will need to go to a healh food or vitamin store to get the natural medicines. Also stock up on female products for the ladies - my wife doesn't stock enough.
Stop at your local feed store for more feed for your animals. You can often get 50 pound bags of oats, corn, and grain and many feed stores that humans can eat. Depending on the threat scenario, you might want to buy seeds, farming gear, and livestock if possible.
If you expect civil unrest, stop at a building supply store and get a bunch of 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" thick plywood, 5 lbs of screws, some 2"x4" studs, and lots of 3/4" gravel. When you get home, you will cut the plywood to size to cover your ground floor windows and glass patio doors. You can also use the plywood and the 2x4 studs to make bullet trap boxes with the gravel. If they have plexiglass or lexan sheets at least 1/4" thick large enough to cover your windows, those could be used instead of the plywood. While at the building supply store, you might want to get the parts you need to rig a rain water harvesting system.
If you have a nuclear fallout scenario, get extra sheet plastic and trash bags (or sand bags). You also need to get HEPA air filters for your home air intake pipes if you have a heat recovery ventilator or mechanical ventilator system.
Also buy lots of caulk and spray foam to weatherize and seal your house as best you can (if you have not already done this).
You will need to build (or improve) a fallout shelter. You need lots of mass. Think in terms of 2 ft of concrete or 3+ ft of dirt, sandbags, water, books, and/or anything else of comparable mass that you can move. You can use firewood as well but you need ~5 ft high densely packed piles. You also want to cover gardens, equipment, firewood piles, outdoor furniture, open animal sheds, etc with sheet plastic to catch any fallout and to simplify decontamination and cleanup after the fallout ends and radiation drops to safe levels. Finally, buy all of the parts you need to build an air pump for your shelter and a Kearny fallout meter (if you do not have a fallout meter).
Before you spend any money on big ticket items, trade goods, or gold/silver, make sure you are secure in all of the items covered above first. Generators could be something to get but remember they are only as good as long as you have fuel to run them. In the last minute, you may not be able to stock more than several days worth of fuel for the generator.
You can invest any remaining cash in trade goods or gold / silver assuming you have a local source who has gold or silver in stock.
Spend using credit cards first, then checks and debit cards before you use any cash.
If you have a retreat or retreat plans, now is the time to gather your family, load your vehicles, and bug out.
If you are remaining in your neighborhood, warn your neighbors and help them prepare. Even a large stocking up grocery run to Costco or a Wal-Mart supercenter can significantly improve their level of preparedness.
You might want to think about preparing LP/OP positions in certain scenarios. However, do all of your other preps first, including preparing your house.
Virginia Preppers Network